Public-Private Transportation Project Was Shovel Ready

The tiniest of articles in the Washington Times mentioned the release of a report prepared by Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis entitled, The Impact of Construction Outlays for the Capital Beltway HOT Lanes on the Economies of Fairfax County, the Washington Metropolitan Area and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The I-495 Capital Beltway High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes project will provide 2 HOT lanes in each direction on the 14 mile Beltway. In addition, over 50 bridges and overpasses will be replaced; two new interchanges will be added, and bike lanes will be installed adjacent to the Beltway. Construction is underway on this project. Upon completion, drivers will have the option of using the HOT lanes or using the existing free lanes. In addition, commuters will also have the option of taking a bus because the added capacity of the HOT lanes and free-flowing traffic will allow buses to operate on fast, reliable schedules – possibly luring people out of their cars. Construction should be completed in 2013.

I have written earlier about the congestion relief this project will bring to Northern Virginia. Now comes a report indicating the project will also have significant impact on the economy of Northern Virginia and the Washington Region.

Dr. Fuller’s report provides an economic impact analysis of this construction project and finds that between 2008 and 2013 the I-495 Capital Beltway HOT lanes project will pour $1.54 Billion of direct construction money into the economy and support 11,800 full time job equivalents throughout the region. The economic benefits in construction spending are expected to generate a total of $2.67 billion in the Washington area economy. In real terms, for each dollar in direct spending on construction materials and workers, Virginia businesses will realize a total benefit of $2.25 as the money is re-spent in local stores and restaurants.

Significantly, the HOT lanes project is a public-private partnership between Virginia Department of Transportation and the private sector partners of Transurban and Fluor.

Dr. Fuller has it right when he says, “While many shovel-ready projects are still waiting for Federal stimulus funding or are on hold due to tight budgets, Capital Beltway HOT Lanes construction is delivering real paychecks, real jobs and real economic growth today. Every construction sign on the Beltway is a sign that much-needed dollars are flowing into the local economy.”